After yet another whirlwind season in north London that started with mass managerial uncertainty and very little expectation, Tottenham have somehow found themselves putting together a solid 2021/22 campaign.
Much of that is down to the hiring of Antonio Conte, who has – as always – revolutionised his new side in a short space of time.
That hasn’t come without the usual dramas that follow Conte, of course. Some questionable performances early on in his reign and uncertainty over recruitment saw him unable to get comfortable at first, but after settling in, Tottenham have began to take to his footballing philosophies slowly but surely.
Considering that virtually nobody had them down to be competing for a top four finish at the beginning of the season, sitting just one point behind Arsenal in fifth with two games to play – having just beaten their rivals 3-0 at a crucial point in the season – is an impressive position to be in.
Somehow sneaking into the Champions League positions for next season would go a long way in making the most of Conte’s spell as manager, considering his pedigree as a trophy winner. And if not, putting together a run in the Europa League is hardly the worst thing in the world.
But considering they were literally 90 minutes away from what is considered by many as club football’s biggest honour in 2019, the years since losing the Champions League final have been somewhat calamitous.
Mauricio Pochettino was given his marching orders, Jose Mourinho was given the job – and then sacked – and they’ve had to fight to within an inch of their life to keep Harry Kane from leaving the club.
After finally looking more stable once again under Conte, it begs the question, how much has actually changed since that Champions League final defeat? GIVEMESPORT has looked back on the XI that started on that forgettable night in Madrid, and where they’ve wound up since.
Goalkeeper – Hugo Lloris – Tottenham
Lloris’ presence as captain and a senior figure has been of utmost importance in the seasons following the final, certainly behind the scenes at least. But at 35, the Frenchman’s age is beginning to show, and a replacement will be needed in the near future.
Right-back – Kieran Trippier – Newcastle United
That night at the Wanda Metropolitano proved to be the first of many for Trippier, who signed for Atletico Madrid in the summer following the final. Settling in well in Spain, he was key as Atleti won La Liga in 2020/21, going some way to avenge his Champions League woes. In 2022, he returned to England with Newcastle, following their takeover.
Centre back – Toby Alderweireld – Al-Duhail
The last hurrah for one of Spurs’ main event stars, Alderweireld didn’t have much left in the tank regardless of the result. Their reliable Belgian defender stayed for another two years before departing for Qatar in the summer of 2021, winding down from his career at the top with Al-Duhail. They’ve struggled to replace his presence.
Centre back – Jan Vertonghen – Benfica
While Spurs eked another two years out of Alderweireld, fellow Belgian and long-time defensive partner Vertonghen left in 2020. Signing for Benfica on a free transfer, Tottenham lost a significant chunk of experience and quality when their Belgian duo had run their race.
Left-back – Danny Rose – Watford
Rose’s fall from the top at Spurs was very sudden. After starting in the final, he was left out of the pre-season tour that followed some months later, but was unable to find a transfer away from the club. After a mid-season loan to Newcastle in 2019/20, Rose joined Watford permanently in 2021 having been frozen out under Mourinho.
Central midfield – Moussa Sissoko – Watford
Despite featuring regularly under Mourinho at Spurs following the final, Sissoko also headed to Watford in the summer of 2021, but has been unable to help them avoid relegation back to the Championship.
Central midfield – Harry Winks – Tottenham
Under the tutelage of Pochettino, there was hope that Winks could become a star man in the middle of the park for Spurs, having joined the club he supports at the age of five. He was trusted again during the Mourinho era but, now 26, has failed to develop into anything more than a squad option. Conte will most likely improve on him given the chance in his first summer as manager.
Right wing – Dele Alli – Everton
It’s a cliché, but Dele really did have all the tools to become a genuine star. Mourinho recognised that after Pochettino’s departure, but couldn’t get a tune out of the mercurial attacker. Spurs finally moved on from the Dele project in January 2022, when relegation-threatened Everton bought him permanently. He has since been unable to break into the starting XI. It’s definitely one of the strangest transfers in recent history.
Tottenham destroy Arsenal to keep top four race alive (Football Terrace)
Attacking midfielder – Christian Eriksen – Brentford
Defeat in the Champions League final wasn’t the end of the story for Eriksen, who looked every part a world class player and the creative lynchpin for Spurs. They lost him in early 2020, though, with Conte snapping him up for Inter. He was key as they won Serie A, and despite suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, has since made a full return with Brentford and is attracting interest from top sides again. Even Spurs are linked with his services once more.
Left wing – Son Heung-min – Tottenham
By no means was Son not up to scratch in 2019 – quite the opposite – but since that final and in the subsequent rebuilding process, he’s arguably become Tottenham’s most valuable asset and their best player. Scorer, creator, runner, leader, there is nothing he can’t do, and at 29, he’s entering his best years. Son has developed into a genuinely world class talent and constant goal threat; Spurs can’t afford to let him go.
Striker – Harry Kane – Tottenham
The one that should have got away. But didn’t. Having fallen at the final hurdle once again with Spurs despite his scoring efforts, it felt inevitable that Kane would finally find a way out of Tottenham. Three years on, he’s still there and his chances of a major move suddenly look increasingly slim.
Finishing top of the scoring and assisting charts in the Premier League in 2020/21, Kane did just about everything he could to force his way out of Tottenham that summer, but Daniel Levy didn’t honour a supposed agreement and refused to sell to Manchester City. Kane looks to have missed his shot at the big time.